Ashiya to Nagasaki

It does not seem that we have gotten very far.  If you check the “Live Tracking” button on the web page you will see that we are docked in Nagasaki, which means we traveled about   450 miles in 3 weeks. We still have about 1250 miles to go to get to Hong Kong.

Nagasaki, as it turns out, is the reason we have not moved on after over a week of sitting in the harbor.  Originally, we talked about going to a folksy little Dutch village called “Huis Ten Bosch”, about 50 miles north or Nagasaki.  The accommodations for the boats were questionable there so we kind of tossed a coin and ended up skipping Huis Ten Bosch and going directly to Nagasaki from our last port, an anchorage called Hirado.  It turned out to be a GREAT decision.  After we got here the dockmaster decided that, instead of two of us at the dock and two at the rough sea wall, he would allow all four of us to use the floating docks, complete with electricity! We took a side train trip to Huis Ten Bosch and, although it is an interesting place in a “touristy” kind of way, it cannot compare to Nagasaki.

Nagasaki is a wonderful, vibrant city and the marina is right in the heart of it. We have all agreed that it is, so far, our favorite location except for Ashiya, which we all agree is the overall favorite. It is filled with great restaurants, museums and monuments, the most touching being the Atom Bomb museum and the Peace Park.  We visited Hiroshima, but it seems that Nagasaki was particularly hard hit because of the geography.  Nagasaki is situated in kind of a “bowl”, surrounded by mountains on all sides, and in a fairly small area. When the bomb exploded, it nearly obliterated everything in the city to the size of small pebbles in many areas.  In the picture below, note that at one time there was a city there.

 ca. 1945 NARA

One of the advantages to not just “passing through”, as many tourists do, is that you get to meet and know the local people.  As in all of Japan, the people you meet are warm and helpful.  Two days ago we went into a shop to look at some clay dishware at a shop owned by a gentleman named Tagawa who was 10 years old when the bomb exploded near his home.  He told us his parents were both killed but that he has many American friends.  It was truly a lumpy throat kind of moment.

Desperate Housewife

It is difficult in Japan to find daily labor for mundane tasks like cleaning the boat at a “reasonable” cost.  In Nagasaki, it seems, there is no help for these tasks at ANY PRICE, the evidence of which is in the above photo!  Just to be fair, all three of us are equally “desperate” and do the same tasks ourselves [see below – Tina on Grey Pearl].  Having said that, it is far rarer to see the upper photo !! Kind of like finding a four leaf clover.

It looks like we will be leaving here on or about Wednesday, June 9th and heading on an overnighter to a small island 250 miles south of here called Amami.  It is only about 200 miles north of Okinawa and hopefully where the “balmy” weather begins.

Ashiya to Nagasaki – Part 1

Our two main stops between Ashiya and Nagasaki were Hiroshima and Fukuoka.  A good part of the cruising was in the Seto Naikai, or the “inland sea”.  If you take a look at the map above, you will see that it is nearly enclosed an all sides by land and for the most part, easy and smooth cruising.  The difficult part of the trip is dodging the ship traffic.  Here is a picture of a typical day in the Inland Sea as seen on my radar.

EVERYTHING that comes into Japan by boat that needs to go from West to East in Japan, it seems, must pass through the Inland Sea.  When you add to that the considerable ferry boat traffic, it adds up to a situation not unlike the LA Freeway at rush hour!

Both Carol and I are familiar with the “Rules of the Road”.  I have always assumed that it was the same everywhere.  Recently, after a particularly hairy close call with a ferry boat, I asked a local friend who has the right of way here.  “Steve san” , he said, “small boats have no right of way in Japan”.  Was he EVER right!  On the second day of our trip Seabird was last in line of our group and we noticed a 300 foot ferry coming up behind us to our starboard.  At the time, we were passing through a  narrow passage between two islands and, since he made no indication otherwise, we assumed he would pass us to the starboard and continue on through the pass. While he was next to us, with no warning whatsoever, he suddenly turned to his port at about 30 degrees, squeezing us between his vessel and the rocks to the port of us. I had nowhere to go so I slipped the transmission into neutral  from full cruise, waited a LONG second and slammed it into reverse, quickly moving it to full throttle.  My hope was that I would simply stop dead in the water and let him pass in front of me.    Unfortunately, hydrodynamics were not on my side.  As he started to cut us off, the ferry started to suck us into his path and Seabird spun around 90 degrees so that we were perpendicular to his port side and closing fast. Time flies when you are having fun, but I assure you that I was not.  The whole incident probably happened in about 15 seconds but it seemed like minutes, culminating when his stern passed our bow with only about 10 feet to spare. Sorry I don’t have any photos of the incident……… but I was kinda busy. Not quite a “pee in the pants” moment, but close!

Travelling by boat in Japan is not without problems.  In the US, you simply get into your boat and go wherever you want. In Japan, even with our “Domestic Boat” status, every stop we make is a major project involving the Coast Guard.  They are extremely courteous and polite, but we are questioned and asked to fill out paperwork at every port. One night, at about 9pm, while at anchor in a sleepy little harbor (Kasado Shima), a bright spot light pierced our windows into the salon.  Carol and I were watching a movie and were a bit startled by it.  Japan is a relatively safe place so we were not anxious about opening the door to see who was out there.  It turned out to be the Coast Guard and they requested to come aboard to inspect our paperwork.  Language, unless you are fluent in Japanese, is ALWAYS a problem in situations like this, but, we smiled, they smiled, we all bowed many times and after they were satisfied with our paperwork and answers to their questions, they took copies of everything and were gone.  Interestingly enough, they did not feel a need to board the other boats and they just passed them by and took a few photos.


I won’t get into Hiroshima too much in this blog as we have visited there before and dedicated some text to it in a previous blog.   We had a bit of a different perspective this time as we were docked at the local marina as opposed to staying in the hotel.  We had a lot of fun there and the marina people could not have been more gracious.  As in most of the other ports we have been into, perfect strangers came to the boat in groups and offered us gifts of food.  I don’t recall that happening in Miami!

We ran into my Brother in Law and nephews while here as they were performing on stage.  They were great as usual.  One of the songs that they wrote and recorded is called “Voices Sweet” which is about finding their relatives in Japan.  While in Hiroshima, we finally met them and had a great time at lunch.  They do not speak much English but we have found communicating with the Japanese fairly easy and they appreciate any effort you make to use their language.

Birthday boy and girl

One good thing about traveling in this group of boats is that we are always looking for a reason to celebrate something.  Fortunately for us, Hiroshima was no exception and we got to celebrate not one, but two birthdays!  Mine came first and Sharry (from Starr) had hers shortly afterward. For mine, we had a group dinner at the restaurant near the Marina and for Sharry, we had one at one of the restaurants in the Mitsui Garden Hotel. For Sharry, we had the more “esoteric” type dinner of Shabu Shabu, which is where they put the boiling soup on the table and you dip the various items into it and cook it. I could say that I actually baked the cake for Sharry but it would be refuted by everyone that  knows me!  Mine was a pizza and Italian food place and Sharry actually did bake the cake for me!

My next update will be our trip from Hiroshima to Nagasaki and MORE on Nagasaki.  Too much for one update!

This Post Has One Comment

  1. Reads like this leg of your journey is a lot of fun! Thanks for blogging with photos!

Comments are closed.

Close Menu